- Russia, China, and the US are in a hypersonic weapons arm race — and officials warn the US could be falling behind
- Sergei Brin: Silicon Valley has outgrown the time of being 'wide-eyed and idealistic' about tech and needs to show 'responsibility, care and humility' (GOOG, GOOGL)
- Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rocket successfully lifts off and lands back on the ground in textbook test flight
- IT'S OFFICIAL: T-Mobile and Sprint are coming together to form a $146 billion new company to take on Verizon and AT&T
- This CEO explains why his legal tech startup took $22 million in funding even when it didn't need it
- 'Avengers: Infinity War' scores the biggest opening weekend of all-time with $250 million (DIS)
- Music industry insiders say Google doesn't stand a chance against Spotify and Apple in streaming music (GOOG, GOOGL)
- Meet the 26-year-old ex-Googler who got $133 million for a cryptocurrency startup that could replace money completely
- The designer of the iconic 1980s Macintosh icons created the ultimate hipster cafe for Pinterest's San Francisco headquarters — take a look inside
- Bonobos released a new line of high-tech clothes — and it shows how the brand is evolving
- Aviation companies are plotting the return of supersonic flight — and they think their jets will be better than the Concorde
- Access an exclusive BI Intelligence report for FREE today
- 24 essential tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your Mac
- A tech company is giving each employee $1,500 to spend on experiences — and it's a millennial's dream perk
- THE US SMART HOME MARKET REPORT: Systems, apps, and devices leading to home automation
- There's a hidden shortcut for rearranging all of your iPhone apps at once — here's how to do it (AAPL)
- THE DATA BREACHES REPORT: The strategies companies are using to protect their customers, and themselves, in the age of massive breaches
- China is building a vast civilian surveillance network — here are 10 ways it could be feeding its creepy 'social credit system'
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 11:45 AM PDT
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this week that "hypersonics is the number one priority," for the US military's research and development.
"Both having them for ourselves, but also the defense against them. It is our number one priority in the developing technology" realm, he said.
Hypersonic weapons, along with AI, direct energy weapons, and robotics "will change the character of war," Mattis explained in his opening statement.
There are two types of hypersonic weapons — hypersonic cruise missiles (HCMs), and hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs). Both are capable of traveling at mach five or above — roughly 3,800 miles per hour or 340 miles every six minutes — and both are maneuverable.
Whereas a ballistic missile can have its flight path determined by momentum and gravity, hypersonic weapons can change direction mid-flight, and keep their intended targets secret until impact. This ability, coupled with their speed, makes hypersonic weapons extremely difficult to intercept.
Russia openly brags about its hypersonic ambitions and gains
Russia has openly bragged about its hypersonic ambitions and successes. Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced a number of new weapons at his State of the Union address in March, two of which were hypersonic — an HCM and an HGV.
The HCM is called the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal, which is Russian for "Dagger." The missile is launched from an aircraft and reportedly has a top speed of Mach 10 — roughly 7,672 miles per hour. Russia also claims that it has a range of 1,200 miles, or approximately 2,000 kilometers.
A video of a demonstration launch was released by the Russian Aerospace Forces, and shows the Kinzhal being launched from a MiG-31BM supersonic interceptor.
The MiG-31BM itself has a reported range of 1,860 miles unrefueled, which means that the Kinzhal may have intercontinental strike capability. Russia is also working in cooperation with India on another HCM, the Brahmos-II, which was tested in November 2017. That missile reportedly reached Mach 7, and had a range of 180 miles (200 kilometers).
The second weapon is the Avangard HGV, which is supposed to be launched from either a UR-100UTTKh or RS-28 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). No photos of the glider have been shown, but a video shows an animation of an Avangard being launched and maneuvering away from missile defenses.
Weeks after Putin announced the Kinzhal, US Air Force General John E. Hyten, the Commander of US Strategic Command, was asked how the US could respond to hypersonic weapons.
"We don't have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us," Hyten said.
The general said that the only "defense" the US had was the threat of nuclear retaliation, adding, "our response would be our deterrent force, which would be the Triad and the nuclear capabilities that we have to respond to such a threat."
China is known to be a leader, but is mostly quiet about its progress
China has the only known operational HGV, known as the DF-ZF and reported by the Pentagon as the WU-14.
The glider has been tested at least seven times, and has a reported range of around 1,242 miles, or 2,000 kilometers. It has reportedly reached speeds of Mach 5 and Mach 10 — about 3,836 miles per hour (6,173 kph) and 7,680 miles per hour (12,359 kph).
The DF-ZF will reportedly be deployed as early as 2020, though some analysts believe that China is still about a decade away from fielding a missile that can carry the HGV.
China is also reportedly building the world's fastest wind tunnel, which it claimed will be able test travel speeds of up to Mach 25 (19,000 miles an hour), considered to be the upper limit of hypersonic speeds.
Mike Griffin, the US undersecretary of defense for research and engineering recently said at a Senate Armed Services hearing that "China has fielded or can field ... hypersonic delivery systems for conventional prompt strike than can reach out thousands of kilometers from the Chinese shore, and hold our carrier battle groups or our forward deployed forces ... at risk."
He added that the US does "not have systems which can hold them at risk in a corresponding manner," that the US doesn't "have defenses against those systems," and that "we will, with today's defensive systems, not see these things coming."
The US seems like it's falling behind, but it's not that simple
Compared to these developments and the numerous statements by US officials warning about the danger of falling behind Russia and China in the race for hypersonics, there is a belief that the US may already be last place.
But some experts cast doubt on those beliefs, at least in some ways.
"The evidence available in the open source suggests to me that the US is still the leader in these technologies," James Acton, a senior fellow and co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told Business Insider. He warned, however, that that lead "is not guaranteed forever."
Acton points out that the US has been researching hypersonic technology for over a decade. "If you look at the US program holistically, we’ve done a lot more than Russia and China have," he said.
There are at least three different HGV or HGV related projects that the US is undertaking — the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, which seen at least three tests, the Tactical Boost Glide Program, and the Advanced Full Range Engine program.
The US was also one of the first countries to test a hypersonic cruise missile, in the form of the Boeing-made X-51 Waverider in 2010.
Additionally, the Air Force recently awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth up to $1 billion for the development of an HCM.
The three major players may have different objectives
Acton also notes that "Russian and Chinese objectives appear to be a lot less demanding than US objectives." Specifically, Russia and China seem to be focusing on equipping their hypersonic weapons with nuclear warheads, whereas the US is focused on conventional weapons.
Hypersonics were "always intended for conventional use," according to George Nacouzi, a senior engineer at the RAND Corporation.
"As a matter of fact, one of the potential uses involved not putting a warhead on HGVs at all, since it is going so fast that it could destroy relatively hard targets with kinetic energy alone," Nacouzi told Business Insider.
While still extremely dangerous, and challenging to build in their own way, nuclear hypersonics do not require the level of precision that conventional hypersonic weapons require.
"Every indication is that the US does not have any intention of putting nuclear warheads on hypersonic glide vehicles," Nacouzi said, adding that "it's apparent that Russia and China do plan on equipping hypersonic weapons with nuclear warheads."
Russian and Chinese hypersonic development is likely focused on defeating US missile defense systems. “Both these nations, China and Russia — especially Russia — have been pretty vocal about their worries about the US' missile defenses. They worry that if the US can defeat their missiles, then their deterrence value goes away," Nacouzi said.
“Hypersonic weapons, specifically hypersonic glide vehicles, would be able to at least get past those defenses," he added.
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 10:47 AM PDT
In the annual founders letter released by Google-parent company Alphabet, Brin touted the far-reaching innovations in artificial intelligence, computing power and speech recognition in recent years.
"Every month, there are stunning new applications and transformative new techniques. In this sense, we are truly in a technology renaissance, " Brin wrote in the letter published on Alphabet's investor relations site on Friday. Advances in artificial intelligence, he said, represent the "most significant development in computing in my lifetime."
But Brin said the tech industry could no longer maintain its "wide-eyed and idealistic" attitude about the impact of its creations.
"There are very legitimate and pertinent issues being raised, across the globe, about the implications and impacts of these advances," Brin said.
Among these issues:
"How will they affect employment across different sectors? How can we understand what they are doing under the hood? What about measures of fairness? How might they manipulate people? Are they safe?"
Brin has seemed dismissive of "hypothetical situations" in the past
The comments come as the tech industry, which represent the most valuable companies in the American economy, has come under fire for a variety of issues, including the collection and misuse of people's personal information (as highlighted by Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal), the spread of misinformation, propaganda and hate speech on services like YouTube, Google and Facebook, and a growing anxiety about our dependence on smartphones.
Brin has been an important figure in the development of technologies once considered the stuff of science fiction, helping to shape the Google X labs where products like self-driving cars, face-worn computers and airborne delivery drones were born.
The 44-year old Russian-born executive has at times shown himself to be dismissive of the public's concerns regarding potential impacts of technological advances, labeling some as "hypothetical situations."
"We can debate as philosophers, but the fact is that we can make cars that are far safer than human drivers," Brin said at a tech conference in 2014, when asked about the ethics involved in creating self-driving cars that must choose between hitting a pedestrian or a truck.
In March, the first self-driving car fatality oc cured in Arizona when an Atmos Uber vehicle struck a pedestrian at night (human-driven cars are involved in more than 35,000 traffic fatalities per year in the US).
"There is serious thought and research going into all of these issues," Brin wrote in the founder's letter on Friday. "Most notably, safety spans a wide range of concerns from the fears of sci-fi style sentience to the more near-term questions such as validating the performance of self-driving cars."
Here's Sergei Brin's full 2017 letter:
It was the best of times,
So begins Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities,” and what a great articulation it is of the transformative time we live in. We’re in an era of great inspiration and possibility, but with this opportunity comes the need for tremendous thoughtfulness and responsibility as technology is deeply and irrevocably interwoven into our societies.
The power and potential of computation to tackle important problems has never been greater. In the last few years, the cost of computation has continued to plummet. The Pentium IIs we used in the first year of Google performed about 100 million floating point operations per second. The GPUs we use today perform about 20 trillion such operations — a factor of about 200,000 difference — and our very own TPUs are now capable of 180 trillion (180,000,000,000,000) floating point operations per second.
Even these startling gains may look small if the promise of quantum computing comes to fruition. For a specialized class of problems, quantum computers can solve them exponentially faster. For instance, if we are successful with our 72 qubit prototype, it would take millions of conventional computers to be able to emulate it. A 333 qubit error-corrected quantum computer would live up to our name, offering a 10,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000x speedup.
There are several factors at play in this boom of computing. First, of course, is the steady hum of Moore’s Law, although some of the traditional measures such as transistor counts, density, and clock frequencies have slowed. The second factor is greater demand, stemming from advanced graphics in gaming and, surprisingly, from the GPU-friendly proof-of-work algorithms found in some of today’s leading cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum. However, the third and most important factor is the profound revolution in machine learning that has been building over the past decade. It is both made possible by these increasingly powerful processors and is also the major impetus for developing them further.
The Spring of Hope
The new spring in artificial intelligence is the most significant development in computing in my lifetime. When we started the company, neural networks were a forgotten footnote in computer science; a remnant of the AI winter of the 1980’s. Yet today, this broad brush of technology has found an astounding number of applications. We now use it to:
Every month, there are stunning new applications and transformative new techniques. In this sense, we are truly in a technology renaissance, an exciting time where we can see applications across nearly every segment of modern society.
However, such powerful tools also bring with them new questions and responsibilities. How will they affect employment across different sectors? How can we understand what they are doing under the hood? What about measures of fairness? How might they manipulate people? Are they safe?
There is serious thought and research going into all of these issues. Most notably, safety spans a wide range of concerns from the fears of sci-fi style sentience to the more near-term questions such as validating the performance of self-driving cars. A few of our noteworthy initiatives on AI safety are as follows:
I expect machine learning technology to continue to evolve rapidly and for Alphabet to continue to be a leader — in both the technological and ethical evolution of the field.
G is for Google
Roughly three years ago, we restructured the company as Alphabet, with Google as a subsidiary (albeit far larger than the rest). As I write this, Google is in its 20th year of existence and continues to serve ever more people with information and technology products and services. Over one billion people now use Search, YouTube, Maps, Play, Gmail, Android, and Chrome every month.
This widespread adoption of technology creates new opportunities, but also new responsibilities as the social fabric of the world is increasingly intertwined.
Expectations about technology can differ significantly based on nationality, cultural background, and political affiliation. Therefore, Google must evolve its products with ever more care and thoughtfulness.
The purpose of Alphabet has been to allow new applications of technology to thrive with greater independence. While it is too early to declare the strategy a success, I am cautiously optimistic. Just a few months ago, the Onduo joint venture between Verily and Sanofi launched their first offering to help people with diabetes manage the disease. Waymo has begun operating fully self-driving cars on public roads and has crossed 5 million miles of testing. Sidewalk Labs has begun a large development project in Toronto. And Project Wing has performed some of the earliest drone deliveries in Australia.
There remains a high level of collaboration. Most notably, our two machine learning centers of excellence — Google Brain (an X graduate) and DeepMind — continue to bring their expertise to projects throughout Alphabet and the world. And the Nest subsidiary has now officially rejoined Google to form a more robust hardware group.
The Epoch of Belief and the Epoch of Incredulity
Technology companies have historically been wide- eyed and idealistic about the opportunities that their innovations create. And for the overwhelming part, the arc of history shows that these advances, including the Internet and mobile devices, have created opportunities and dramatically improved the quality of life for billions of people. However, there are very legitimate and pertinent issues being raised, across the globe, about the implications and impacts of these advances. This is an important discussion to have. While I am optimistic about the potential to bring technology to bear on the greatest problems in the world, we are on a path that we must tread with deep responsibility, care, and humility. That is Alphabet’s goal.
NOW WATCH: Jeff Bezos reveals what it's like to build an empire and become the richest man in the world — and why he's willing to spend $1 billion a year to fund the most important mission of his life
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 10:20 AM PDT
Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' private rocket company, launched the New Shephard rocket's eighth test flight from West Texas on Sunday.
New Shephard reached space, cruising at 2,200 mph at one point, then came back down for a textbook autonomous landing on the launchpad.
A sonic boom shook the area as the booster sped back to Earth.
It was the second time they were reusing the rocket, the commentator on the company's livestream said.
The company's scientists and engineers have quietly been working on New Shephard for years in the desert of West Texas.
After a few delays because of thunderstorms and final safety checks, the reusable rocket lifted off just after 1 p.m. ET.
"Mannequin Skywalker" was also onboard:
The capsule with the mannequin inside softly glided back to Earth with parachutes a few minutes after the booster returned.
'Opening space for all'
If New Shephard is Bezos' and Bule Origin's answer to Elon Musk and SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, the New Glenn rocket under development will be their answer to Falcon Heavy, the largest rocket in use today. SpaceX's first Falcon Heavy test flight was in February.
"Reusability allows us to fly the system again and again," Blue Origin writes on its website. "With each flight, we'll continuously improve the affordability of space exploration and research, opening space for all."
Musk has a similar reason for making SpaceX rockets reusable — it costs a ton of money to send things into space. He and Bezos argue that if they can reuse rockets, it can significantly cut that cost, and make space travel and exploration much easier.
This week, Bezos told Mathias Döpfner, the CEO of Business Insider's parent company, Axel Springer, that Blue Origin is "the most important work that I'm doing." He also said they plan to put humans in the rockets for test flights at the end of this year or the beginning of 2019.
"Take the scenario, where you move out into the Solar System," Bezos said. "The Solar System can easily support a trillion humans. And if we had a trillion humans, we would have a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts and unlimited (for all practical purposes) resources and solar power unlimited for all practical purposes. That's the world that I want my great-grandchildren's great-grandchildren to live in."
NOW WATCH: Jeff Bezos reveals what it's like to build an empire and become the richest man in the world — and why he's willing to spend $1 billion a year to fund the most important mission of his life
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 09:38 AM PDT
T-Mobile USA chief executive officer John Legere made the announcement by tweeting a seven-minute video breaking down the merger, while also including a link to a website further explaining the combination. Deutsche Telekom owns two-thirds of T-Mobile, and will control the newly formed firm.
Legere will be CEO of the combined entity, which will keep the T-Mobile name, and have headquarters located in both Bellevue, Wash. and Overland Park, Kan.
The deal, which will combine the third- and fourth-largest US wireless carriers, is expected to come under serious scrutiny from antitrust regulators. For evidence of that, one need not look further than how fervently the Trump administration has opposed AT&T's proposed mega-acquisition of Time Warner.
It marks the culmination of four years of on-again, off-again discussions between T-Mobile and Sprint — and serves as the third time the two rivals have tried to merge.
The agreement involves T-Mobile exchanging 9.75 Sprint shares per unit of T-Mobile. Deutsche Telekom will own 42% of the combined company, while SoftBank — which controls 85% of Sprint — will own 27%. The remaining 31% will be held by the public.
Sprint and T-Mobile discussed a potential deal in November 2017, but talks broke down amid disagreement over who would control the new company. A Wall Street Journal report suggests that SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son may have since become more willing to give up control amid mounting pressure on Sprint to roll out 5G technology.
"This combination will create a fierce competitor with the network scale to deliver more for consumers and businesses in the form of lower prices, more innovation, and a second-to-none network experience — and do it all so much faster than either company could on its own," Legere said in an official statement. "We intend to bring this same competitive disruption as we look to build the world's best 5G network that will make the US a hotbed for innovation and will redefine the way consumers live and work across the US, including in rural America."
The all-stock transaction values Sprint at 0.10256 per T-Mobile share, or $6.62 a share, based on T-Mobile's last closing price. That valued Sprint at around $26 billion. T-Mobile had a market value of $55 billion as of Friday's close, and the two companies have roughly $60 billion of combined debt.
Sprint's stock has surged 26% since the Wall Street Journal reported on April 10 that the two companies had rekindled merger talks, while T-Mobile's has risen 8% over the same period.
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 09:00 AM PDT
Logikcull, a San Francisco-based startup that makes eDiscovery software, didn't need the money when Silicon Valley venture firm New Enterprise Associates approached the company last year. Yet, the firm gave Logikcull $22 million, preempting its next funding round, the company announced in January.
Logikcull didn't need the cash because, a year earlier, business had "exploded," CEO Andy Wilson told Business Insider. The company's headcount has expanded from 35 to over 100. And customer count has increased 500% in under a year.
"To be honest, we really weren't ready for it," Wilson said. "We were averaging a few customers a month before, now we get 70 to 80 per month."
Logikcull lets users drag and drop large amounts of data — such as emails, slack messages, texts, and office documents — into a database that can easily searched. For lawyers, this is especially important during the process of Discovery, the part of a lawsuit where each party requests evidence and information from the other side before trial.
There's already eDiscovery software on a the market that lets lawyers sort and organize documents online. The market is set to hit $18.49 billion by 2021, according to Zion Research, and the industry is has some big players such as Dell, Symantec, IBM, and LexisNexis.
But eDiscovery can be expensive, sometimes costing five or six figures for a yearly subscription or license. Logikcull, by comparison, is one of a few eDiscovery startups that have adopted a "pay-as-you-go" model. Instead of a yearly subscription, users now pay $40 for every gigabyte of data uploaded. Wilson attributes Logikcull's recent success to the pricing model.
Leveling the playing field
Logikcull is particularly popular with people representing themselves in court, and at smaller law firms that don't have the budget to spend on old-school eDiscovery software, Wilson says — although he notes that big name firms and large companies are customers too.
Recently, the legal team representing the gymnasts suing Michigan State University for its role in the Larry Nassar case, used Logikcull to sort through a massive hoard of documents from the university. In a less public example, we spoke to a lawyer in rural Flordia who says she used Logikcull in a case where she uncovered a massive health insurance scam.
"It was a breath of fresh air. I was able to do all of the work it was taking them days and weeks to do, I was able to do it in hours" Michelle Jordan, the lawyer in Florida, told Business Insider.
In this way, Wilson said, Logikcull is leveling the playing field so smaller firms can fight "data dumps," a legal strategy that involves burying the other side with so many documents, their legal team is forced to spend all of their time sorting through them, instead of planning a strategy.
"Do you think it's in the best interest of a larger adversary to make your life easier, especially the smaller guys? For a long time, that was a great strategy because the little guy didn't have s--t," Wilson said.
The tool has even spread beyond the legal profession, says Wilson. Business teams use Logikcull when doing due diligence on a company its thinking of acquiring or investing in. Wilson has seen Logikcull used for internal investigations and audits. Governments — from the city of Baltimore to small towns — use Logikcull to process Freedom of Information Act requests from journalists, a usage that is becoming increasing popular, Wilson said.
"Pre-Logikcull, it was taking them an average of three weeks to comply with every [Freedom of Information Act] request, they would have to print things out and manually redact them. Now, they do all of that stuff same day," Wilson said.
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 08:35 AM PDT
Marvel/Disney's long-awaited "Avengers: Infinity War" proved its box office might over the weekend as it took in an estimated $250 million at the domestic box office, according to boxofficepro. That's the biggest of all-time.
The movie that culminates everything that has occurred in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the last decade since Robert Downey Jr. put on the Iron Man suite in 2008, "Infinity War" follows The Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy as they battle the evil Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin), who wants to possess all the Infinity Stones so he can destroy half of the universe's population.
With the movie's enormously high stakes, fans both super and casual alike of the MCU flocked to the multiplex to see the movie, if not for the simple reason to make sure they weren't left out of the talk on social media and around the office that's to follow.
It's the kind of buzz around a movie that studios dream of — movie that has to be seen on its opening weekend in fear of FOMO. And the weekend numbers are proving that "Infinity War" accomplished its mission.
Following a $106 million Friday (with $39 million from Thursday previews), the movie took a minuscule 25% drop on Saturday, when it took in $83 million. That marks the best Saturday ever (topping $69.6 million by "Jurassic World").
The movie's $250 million weekend passes the all-time best domestic opening weekend held by "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" with $247.9 million in 2015. "Infinity War" playing on more screens (4,474) than "Force Awakens (4,134) helped, too.
"Infinity War" is the sixth movie all-time to have a $200 million-plus opening weekend domestically. They are "The Force Awakens," "The Last Jedi," "Jurassic World," "The Avengers," and "Black Panther."
Yes, all of those properties except for "Jurassic World" are owned by Disney.
The super studio has already earned over $1 billion domestically at the 2018 box office.
More on "Infinity War":
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 07:41 AM PDT
YouTube plans to launch yet another "Spotify-killer" music streaming service at its annual Google I/O developer conference, according to reports. If history is any guide, we shouldn't expect much in the way of innovation from the new paid service, or more importantly, anything too disruptive.
Back in December, Bloomberg reported that YouTube and parent company, Alphabet Inc., planned to launch the site in March. A more recent report from Droid Life says that a new service, perhaps called "YouTube Remix," will debut around May 8, when Google's developer conference gets under way. A YouTube spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Regardless of when the new service arrives, we've seen this scenario play out before. Following tense licensing negotiations with the music industry, YouTube and parent company Google typically make a series of concessions. These usually include YouTube agreeing to launch a new service supposedly designed to persuade users to pay for songs.
Then, the service promptly falls behind the sector's leaders, Spotify and Apple, languishing there until the next round of negotiations. Meanwhile, YouTube, the world's most popular source of music, continues to rumble on, banking big ad dollars.
Google Play Music came along first, in 2011. Then YouTube Music Key emerged in 2014, which was turned into YouTube Red. That service is still around and offers an ad-free experience, for music as well as any other kind of YouTube video. Not one of these services has done much to challenge Spotify as the leader in the space, multiple music industry sources say.
One reason the music sector is so keen on transforming YouTube into a paid music service is that after a long dry spell Spotify, Apple and other subscription sites are leading a modest revival.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry said global music revenues rose by 8% in 2017. That's the third year of positive growth after a staggering 15-year run of declines. Still, to expect YouTube to "put its shoulder" into creating a legitimately competitive paid music service is senseless, said Mark Mulligan, director of MIDiA Research and a longtime digital-music analyst.
"[The record labels] say 'Look, you got to be in the subscription business,' even though the subscription business is a complete contradiction to YouTube's core business," Mulligan said. "YouTube makes money by selling advertising and advertisers want to reach the best consumers. So, if you go and lock the best consumers behind a [paywall] you're diminishing your core product and the core product is a high margin product."
Mulligan said that whatever music service may come out of I/O, he thinks it's "going to be a continuation of the same thing."
The upcoming service certainly doesn't sound very different, judging from Bloomberg's story. Quoting unnamed sources, the news agency reported that it would offer "Spotify-like on-demand streaming and would incorporate elements from YouTube, such as video clips."
At stake for the big music labels is more than the money that a YouTube paid service might generate. If YouTube doesn't wall off some of its free music content, then users have no motivation to ever pay either YouTube or Spotify. The labels have long accused YouTube's ad-supported, free-to-listen business of stymieing growth to paid music services, which are more lucrative for them.
For years, the labels have tried to force YouTube to pay more to license music. They argue that the site pays too little, relative to the size of its audience. Typically, the big music companies find themselves in a weak negotiating position because of copyright law.
YouTube is protected from liability for infringement committed by users. This means that if the labels don't license the music to YouTube, the site's users will just post videos themselves to the site. Then, the labels must go through an arduous, and costly process to remove the clips.
The big record companies have long claimed that YouTube exploits this during licensing talks. They say YouTube's leaders adopt a take it or leave it approach. If the labels don't accept YouTube's offer, the site's managers tell them they can remove their videos and then try policing the site for pirated songs, according to the labels. Executives from the record companies say they have learned that licensing YouTube -- even at below-market rates --makes more sense.
But the record companies may have a little more leverage now. The European Union is trying to determine whether negotiations over licensing fees between artists and YouTube-esque sites are too one-sided in favor of the sites. Under a proposed plan that is due to be voted on later this year, YouTube could eventually be forced to fork over more money.
Any decision in Europe would only affect YouTube there, but it would create an unfavorable precedent. Judging from the far less combative language coming from music industry leaders, YouTube is coming around, at least a little.
"I feel that YouTube is starting to make more of an effort with the music industry," said David Israelite, President and CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association, who has been one of YouTube's chief critics. "But they still have a long way to go with the actual royalties they pay. What’s most important is fair compensation."
But Mulligan, the analyst, says that by forcing YouTube to be something akin to a retailer is a missed opportunity.
"Sooner or later, the music industry must realize YouTube plays a massively important role," he said. "And its role is the future of radio, not the future of Tower Records."
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 07:00 AM PDT
Today, Nader Al-Naji is the CEO of Basis — a hot cryptocurrency startup, with grand ambitions to replace regular money, and which recently took in a $133 million investment round from firms including GV (formerly Google Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.
The origins of Basis, however, go back to Al-Naji's days studying studying computer science at Princeton, when he learned that the university provided students with free electricity. At a friend's suggestion, Al-Naji, who had recently learned about bitcoin, decided to put his dorm room power toward a profitable pursuit.
"If you built a mining rig for $1000 in 2013, you could make your money back in about a month," Al-Naji told Business Insider.
Al-Naji went to work building a powerful computer with two graphics cards and then, he said, "I just started mining away." Over the course of the first 6 months, Al-Naji said he mined a total of 22 bitcoins.
At Princeton, Al-Naji's interest in bitcoin led him to take courses in monetary history, where he spent office hours arguing with his professor about monetary policy, and the potential for decentralized currencies.
The basis of Basis
After graduation, Al-Naji's obsessive study of cryptocurrencies grew only deeper.
Later, while working as a software engineer at Google, Al-Naji revisited an idea he'd stumbled upon with two friends while at Princeton: What if they could create a digital currency that, unlike bitcoin, didn't wildly fluctuate in value?
The volatility of bitcoin has made it more useful as a vehicle for speculation than as a currency, say critics — when the value can change drastically from hour to hour, it introduces undesirable risk for sellers and buyers alike.
Along with his friends, Lawrence Diao and Josh Chen, Al-Naji began working on a digital currency that used the blockchain as a form of monetary regulation.
In 2017, Al-Naji posted an early whitepaper for the currency, which is now called Basis, to his Facebook.
The whitepaper described a "stable cryptocurrency" that will maintain a relatively fixed value, so that it can be used to make purchases. Unlike the stable token Tether, which has a steady value that's tied to the US dollar, the value of Basis is controlled algorithmically, on the blockchain.
"It's built on a digital constitution that's very difficult to modify," said Al-Naji. "It's easier to trust the blockchain [as means of monetary regulation] than the government."
Al-Naji's whitepaper received immediate enthusiasm from friends within the cryptocurrency community.
"A lot of people told me, 'This is really interesting, you should really do this,'" he said.
The overwhelming enthusiasm for the project inspired Al-Naji to pursue it more seriously, and, a short while later, he posted to Facebook again, this time saying that he was going to quit Google in order to work on Basis full time.
The future of Basis
At first, Al-Naji and his friends decided that they would use their own money to fund the business, but when investors like GV (formerly Google Ventures), Bain Capital Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Andreessen Horowitz began expressing interest, they reconsidered. And the $133 million investment came to be.
"When you're trying to build a cryptocurrency, you need mind share," said Al-Naji. "One way to get that is by having influential people buy into the project."
Al-Naji said the money will be used to develop several potential use-cases for the technology, but declined to comment any further. At the time of the investment, Basis highlighted how the technology could be especially useful for those in the developing world, where there's little existing financial infrastructure to speak of.
As for those bitcoins Al-Naji mined back in 2013?
"I'm still HODLing," he said, referring to the cryptocurrency acronym that stands for "hold on for dear life." (At the time of publication, 22 bitcoins is valued at around $200,000.)
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 06:30 AM PDT
Susan Kare, the woman behind the Apple Macintosh's smiling computer icon, has lent her decades-long visual expertise and creative savvy to a new cafe located inside Pinterest's San Francisco headquarters.
Kare, a UI and graphic designer, has worked for Pinterest since 2015. She also sits on the design team of the newly-opened cafe called "The Point. "
Business Insider caught up with Kare and what went into opening and designing The Point. Take a look inside:
Welcome to The Point Cafe.
It's located in the lobby of Pinterest's headquarters in San Francisco.
The cafe is basically brand new: Its opening day was February 19.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 06:27 AM PDT
Bonobos is getting technical.
The menswear-focused clothing company, now a subsidiary of Walmart, has released a new line of clothes made with highly technical fabrics. The cotton, polyamide and elastane blend fabric is stretchy and moisture resistant. The company says it can resist stains from spills and wicks away moisture all while looking like a normal pair of pants.
Bonobos has increased its line, which started with pants, by 400% with its latest release. It now includes jackets, blazers, and button-down shirts.
In a word, the inspiration for the new collection was "evolution," Dwight Fenton, head of design at Bonobos, said.
"Menswear moves quickly these days, faster than ever before, and technically capable clothing is one of the places it’s headed," Fenton told Business Insider."I’m not talking about shirts that can also control your phone or open your garage door, rather clothes that look and feel like what you’re used to, but that can resist stains or odor, provide water repellent, wick moisture, etc."
Fenton said the Tech Chino was so successful, it inspired the company to create an entire line. He says the collection is made for "anybody who demands clothing that suits their active lives without sacrificing performance or style."
Bonobos' tackling of the tech-inspired clothing is different from other companies, Fenton said, as the competition tends to enter the space with more obvious design touches.
"A lot of what we saw in the market went out of its way to make sure the world knew you were wearing “technical” sportswear, lots of extra zippers, seams, bells and whistles," Fenton said. "We wanted the opposite effect, functionality without making 'the future' a lifestyle choice."
In some ways, the new collection mirrors technological improvements in other areas of customer's lives.
"This isn’t a fad," Fenton said. "If you have an iPhone 8, you’re not going to want the 6 again."
Customers demand more from their clothing, he said, pointing to the rise of athleisure and streetwear which has blurred the lines between formality in clothing. That's allowed people to take more risks and welcome technology into their clothing, especially as they start to expect additional functionality.
Of course, increased technology comes with a cost. Bonobos tech-infused garments are more expensive than its regular lines. As an example, Bonobos' tech chinos run $168 a pair, while the normal cotton chinos are only $98.
"It’s just a symptom of a lot of this being new technology and not at scale yet, but as more and more of this infiltrates the market, costs will come down, and in turn, retail prices," Fenton said.
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 06:07 AM PDT
The Concorde made its first commercial flight in 1973, and for nearly 30 years, it allowed customers to cut overseas trips in half. A flight from New York to London would take about three hours and thirty minutes on the Concorde, compared to about seven hours on a standard, subsonic flight.
But the supersonic jet was expensive to operate, and the combination of a deadly accident in 2000 and an economic downturn after 9/11 led to its retirement in 2003.
Boom Supersonic wants to make flights affordable
The companies working on the Concorde's successors believe improved designs and materials will result in superior performance. But their aircraft will still be expensive to operate and, given current regulations, unable to fly over land in the US and many other countries due to the loud sonic boom they produce.
Due to those constraints, the next generation of supersonic planes will focus primarily on business travelers and the kinds of wealthy clients who fly on private jets instead of commercial aircraft.
But one startup, Boom Supersonic, thinks its customers will be able to buy tickets on its 55-seat, XB-1 aircraft for a price similar to today's business class fares. The company says it will be able to fly at Mach 2.2 (Mach 1 is the speed of sound), which would make it the fastest commercial aircraft in history.
The XB-1 will be made from carbon composites and use design features the company says will improve its aerodynamic qualities. Boom has received over 75 pre-orders for the aircraft, which it plans to deliver in 2023, from customers including Japan Airlines and the Virgin Group. On Tuesday, Ctrip, China's leading online travel agency, announced its investment in the company.
Spike Aerospace believes it has conquered the sonic boom
Boom's competitors will focus on business executives who can afford to pay a premium for reduced travel times. Like Boom, they're touting their designs and materials.
Spike Aerospace CEO Vik Kachoria said the company's 18-seat, S-512 jet will reduce its sonic boom to a level that could be acceptable for flights over land due the jet's "cranked delta wing" shape, which resembles the Concorde with a lower portion of its wings removed. The company says the jet will be able to fly at Mach 1.6 and produce a perceived loudness level of less than 75 PLdB, lower than the Concorde's 105 PLdB. NASA has said 75 PLdB is the level at which supersonic aircraft could fly over land without creating a disruptive amount of noise.
"Engineering tools that weren't available when the Concorde was designed now enable us to really look at the aircraft and optimize it in a number of ways that make it more fuel efficient, make it quieter when it's flying—reduce that sonic boom—and provide a better experience for the passengers," Kachoria said in an interview with Business Insider.
The aircraft's main cabin replaces windows with wraparound screens that allow passengers to watch movies, display PowerPoint presentations, or watch footage captured by cameras on the jet's exterior. Spike plans to deliver the aircraft in 2023.
Aerion Supersonic hopes to be first to market
Spike will compete most directly with Aerion Supersonic, which is aiming to deliver its 12-seat AS2 jet, with a maximum speed of 1.4 Mach, in 2025. The company has received an order of 20 aircraft from the fractional-ownership company Flexjet, and executive chairman and CEO Brian Barents said the aircraft will be the first to hit the market.
"We are on a clear path to bring this airplane to the market and be first to market," he said in an interview with Business Insider.
Barents emphasized the importance of using carbon fiber to build the AS2, and said the sturdy and lightweight material is one of the most significant developments in supersonic technology since the Concorde went out of commission. He said carbon fiber allows the jet to achieve supersonic natural laminar flow, a proprietary technology the company says can reduce drag on the wings by as much as 20% compared to the Concorde.
"Those design tools are not available to anyone else in the industry," Barents said.
In December, Aerion announced a potential partnership with Lockheed Martin that could result in a collaboration on the AS2. At the time of the announcement, Lockheed said it would spend a year deciding whether it wanted to join the project.
Lockheed-Martin is working with NASA
David C. Richardson, the director of air vehicle technologies at Lockheed's Skunkworks, said other companies have approached it about potential collaborations on commercial supersonic aircraft over the past 15 years, but Lockheed turned down those proposals for various reasons, including insufficient funding, underdeveloped markets, and a reliance on regulatory changes.
Richardson said Aerion's proposal stood out because of the engineering behind the AS2 and the way Aerion described its commercial potential.
"It was the rigor of their technical work on the AS2 and their marketing and business story that led us to want to learn more and discover for ourselves what the potential could be of working together," he told Business Insider.
Lockheed may also have the best chance of influencing the regulations that forbid supersonic flight over land. Earlier this month, NASA announced that Lockheed had won a $247.5 contract to build an experimental aircraft designed to fly at supersonic speeds without producing a disruptive sonic boom. Lockheed will deliver the aircraft to NASA in late 2021, at which point the agency will test it over US cities to evaluate the amount of noise it emits.
Timelines for delivering aircraft may be optimistic
It's easy to become excited listening to the next generation of supersonic aircraft builders describe their products' capabilities, but aviation analyst Henry Harteveldt said some of their claims should be taken with a grain of salt.
Harteveldt, like Kachoria and Barents, doesn't think supersonic flight will be allowed over land in the next decade. In the near term, he said the aircraft companies like Aerion, Boom, and Spike are promoting can't be built with today's engine technology.
"Right now, we still have not made enough progress with the aircraft engines," he told Business Insider. "These are virtual aircraft that exist only in very slick video presentations and PowerPoint presentations and CAD designs. These are nothing more than RV campers with wings right now that will go nowhere without the engines."
While he believes the timelines set forth by Aerion, Boom, and Spike are optimistic (he expects supersonic flights to become available between 2027 and 2030), Harteveldt thinks that may be a good thing. Setting out ambitious, public objectives, could motivate them and ultimately improve their products.
"It's always good to have goals, right? If you don't have goals, you don't push yourself," he said.
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 06:02 AM PDT
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Posted: 29 Apr 2018 06:00 AM PDT
Steve Jobs may have been obsessed with making Macs super-simple to use — but some of the best Mac tips and tricks aren't always obvious to the everyday user.
From keyboard shortcuts to hidden tools, Macs are full of features that will help you work more quickly and easily.
So whether you're a Mac newbie or you're just coming back from a long Windows vacation, here are 24 handy, not-totally-obvious tricks to help you get the most out of your Mac.
Jeff Dunn contributed to an earlier version of this post.
1. The simplest and most common way to speed up your Mac usage is to take advantage of Spotlight.
Get there by hitting Command + Space, and you can quickly find files, open apps, search the web, and make system-wide searches.
2. You can also use Spotlight as a calculator, or have it make currency conversions.
3. If you ever lose your mouse in a sea of windows onscreen, just shake it — the cursor will automatically enlarge.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 05:30 AM PDT
As a result, companies are hatching creative solutions to keep their millennial-aged workers on the company's payroll longer, from providing paid time off for exploring nature to on-demand career coaching.
Qualtrics, a company whose software allow enterprises and researchers to gather data that help improve their customer, employee, and brand experiences, may take the cake in providing over-the-top company perks for its roughly 1,700 employees based in Provo, Utah; Seattle, Washington; and abroad.
In January, Qualtrics began giving each employee $1,500 to spend on an experience "they wouldn't normally be able to have." So far, some employees have swam with sharks in the Galapagos, skiied the Austrian Alps, trekked the Great Wall of China, and delivered books to children in the Philippines.
To qualify, workers must be full-time employees who've been with the company for at least a year. There's no travel itinerary or application required; employees are free to spend the money as they wish.
"We don't tell you what to do. We just want to say we helped you cross something off your bucket list," said Mike Maughan, Qualtric's head of brand growth and customer insight.
For millennials, it's all about the perks
Americans, for better or worse, are spending more and more of their waking lives at work. Millennials in general work more hours, forfeit more vacation days, and retire much later than previous generations. They also make less money than their parents did at the same age.
According to career site Glassdoor, more than half (57%) of all workers said perks and benefits are among the top things they consider when deciding whether to accept a job. Nearly 90% of younger employees ages 18 to 34 said they would prefer new or additional benefits over a pay raise.
"Benefits and perks matter because they're an added piece of the total compensation puzzle," Scott Dobroski, Glassdoor's career trends analyst, told Business Insider's Rachel Gillett.
Founded in 2002, Qualtric's entire business is centered on helping companies satisfy their customers. Major airlines use Qualtric's software to gather customer flight feedback and create experiences that surprise and delight fliers, while retailers use Qualtrics to help them launch targeted ad campaigns, conduct pricing studies, and understand how customers are using their mobile sites.
"We work on experience management all day long," Maughan said, adding that the new "experience bonus" shows employees that "this company walks the walk."
In addition to the experience bonus, Qualtrics offers its employees fully paid healthcare for their families, 401K matching, catered lunches that bring workers across teams together at the communal tables, and "swag bags" delivered twice annually with the latest Qualtrics gear.
Qualtrics isn't the first to offer a travel stipend as a company perk. Airbnb gives its employees an annual allowance of $2,000 to travel and stay in an Airbnb listing anywhere in the world.
Roughly 80% of Qualtric's employees are millennials born between 1982 and 2000, according to Maughan. He said the new perk was not motivated to keep millennials around, though it's an obvious benefit.
"I think we're very aware of the [workforce] trends relating to millennials," Maughan said. He added: "The primary motivator is that we genuinely care about our employees. We want to make sure we're providing them with an opportunity that they really want to do and that they wouldn't do otherwise."
So far, 668 Qualtric employees have taken advantage of the experience bonus in 2018.
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 05:01 AM PDT
This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.
The US smart home market has still yet to meet the expectations many observers had in the early part of this decade.
The same issues Business Insider Intelligence first identified back in 2015 still plague the space — persistently high prices, technological fragmentation, and consumers' lack of a perceived benefit from the devices.
But the newfound popularity of smart home voice control has revolutionized smart home ecosystems across the country, and convinces more consumers to equip their homes with smart devices on a daily basis. The Amazon Echo, released in 2014, has become immensely popular and capable, awakening users to the utility of both voice control and smart home devices. This has prompted companies to rush to release competing devices and integrate voice control into their smart home ecosystems.
In a new report from Business Insider Intelligence, we examine the overall state of the US smart home market — both the professionally and self-installed markets. We analyze the factors driving demand for smart home devices and smart home voice speakers, and discuss the future of voice control in the home.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
In full, the report:
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 04:00 AM PDT
It's easy to rearrange the apps on your iPhone: Simply hold down until they start wiggling, then move them into the screens and folders of your choice.
But if you want to rearrange a lot of apps at once, it can take a while — unless you know this new trick that Apple included in the most recent version of iOS software, iOS 11. (We only learned about it this week via Finertech.)
It lets you move multiple apps at once. Here's how you do it:
Here's a gif illustrating how to do it:
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 03:04 AM PDT
This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.
Over the past five years, the world has seen a seemingly unending series of high-profile data breaches, defined as incidents in which unauthorized parties access and retrieve sensitive, secure, or private data.
Major incidents, like the 2013 Yahoo breach, which impacted all 3 million of the tech giant's customers, and the more recent Equifax breach, which exposed the information of at least 143 million US adults, has kept this risk, and these threats, at the forefront for both businesses and consumers. And businesses have good reason to be concerned — of organizations breached, 22% lost customers, 29% lost revenue, and 23% lost business opportunities.
This threat isn't going anywhere. Each of the past five years has seen, on average, 1,704 security incidents, impacting nearly 2 billion records. And hackers could be getting more efficient, using new technological tools to extract more data in fewer breach attempts. That's making the security threat an industry-agnostic for any business holding sensitive data — at this point, virtually all companies — and therefore a necessity for firms to address proactively and prepare to react to.
The majority of breaches come from the outside, when a malicious actor is usually seeking access to records for financial gain, and tend to leverage malware or other software and hardware-related tools to access records. But they can come internally, as well as from accidents perpetrated by employees, like lost or stolen records or devices.
That means that firms need to have a broad-ranging plan in place, focusing on preventing breaches, detecting them quickly, and resolving and responding to them in the best possible way. That involves understanding protectable assets, ensuring compliance, and training employees, but also protecting data, investing in software to understand what normal and abnormal performance looks like, training employees, and building a response plan to mitigate as much damage as possible when the inevitable does occur.
Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has put together a detailed report on the data breach threat, who and what companies need to protect themselves from, and how they can most effectively do so from a technological and organizational perspective.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
In full, the report:
Posted: 29 Apr 2018 12:07 AM PDT
China is setting up a vast surveillance system that tracks every single one of its 1.4 billion citizens — from using facial recognition to name and shame jaywalkers, to forcing people to download apps that can access all the photos on their smartphones.
The growth of China's surveillance technology comes as the state rolls out an enormous "social credit system" that ranks citizens based on their behaviour, and doles out rewards and punishments depending on their scores.
Not much is known so far about how China will monitor its citizens for the social credit system, but some of the technology currently available in China could well be used in the system. Tech companies in China are required to share data with the government upon request.
Scroll down to see all the ways China is already monitoring its citizens.
1. Using facial recognition technology that can pick people out of massive crowds.
At least 16 cities, municipalities, and provinces across China have already started using a facial recognition system that can scan the country's entire 1.4 billion-strong population — with 99.8% accuracy, Chinese state media reported.
China's facial recognition surveillance has already proven to be eerily effective: Police in Nanchang, southeastern China, managed to locate and arrest a wanted suspect out of a 60,000-person pop concert earlier this month, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
A BBC reporter who tested a facial recognition system in Guiyang, southwest China, found that it only took seven minutes for authorities to catch him. Watch how:
2. Getting group chat admins to spy on people.
China holds people criminally liable for content posted in any group chat they initiate on messaging apps. The regulation applies even to private and encrypted apps, such as WhatsApp.
The government also requires tech companies to monitor and keep records of conversations for six months, and report any illegal activity to authorities.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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